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NHLPA might take issue with Montreal’s decision to send Gomez home

Jan 15, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT

Jets Canadiens Hockey AP

The Montreal Canadiens have made it clear that they intend to use an amnesty buyout on Scott Gomez‘s contract this summer. Until then, they won’t let him play.

The reason for that is simple: If Gomez sustains an injury that lasts through the summer, then he can’t be bought out. The Canadiens are already pushing against the cap and with it set to go down to $64.3 million in 2013-14, shedding Gomez’s $7,357,143 hit seems like their best option.

It might not be that simple though as the NHLPA is reviewing the situation, according to RDS’ Renaud Lavoie.

Why? Sports lawyer Eric Macramalla recently explained what might happen in an article for CBS Sports:

It would not be unreasonable for the NHLPA to grieve the expulsion of Gomez. Contract law obligations flow both ways. Part of that includes providing Gomez the reasonable opportunity to discharge the services he has been contracted to provide. In part, the NHLPA could argue sending home a perfectly healthy player with no off-ice issues simply with a view to preserving an amnesty buyout is not in keeping with the spirit of the contract. The NHLPA could say Gomez is being banished not because he failed to discharge his contractual obligations, but simply because of newly implemented system issues.

The union might also argue that forcing Gomez to miss the entire season will hurt his market value. The 33-year-old forward is coming off a horrendous season and the Canadiens’ decision will make it impossible for him to earn some sort of redemption before he enters the free agent market.

Gomez had two goals and 11 points in 38 games in 2011-12. He got some playing time with the ECHL Alaska Aces during the lockout and recorded six goals and 13 points in 11 contests.

  1. acieu - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Surprising myself I agree with the possible NHLPA position. Seems unfair in terms of any future market value for the player. Should be a way to make the buy out earlier or bury him in the minors. Can’t believe I find myself agreeing with the players association.

    • hockeywithdrawal - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:26 AM

      “Gomez is being banished not because he failed to discharge his contractual obligations, but simply because of newly implemented system issues”….

      Come on now…you really believe he is being sent home “simply because of newly implemented system issues”? This is performance-based, he was given a contract that he has not even ATTEMPTED to live up to – and this is exactly what the buy-out is for.

      I have been against the NHL during the entire lockout – but I agree with this. NHLPA should not fight this.

      • ThatGuy - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:57 AM

        Do you have any idea what a union is for? Its to protect the rights of their members. The NHLPA has a duty to fight this, and should fight it.

      • johngaltx - Jan 15, 2013 at 10:10 AM

        “Do you have any idea what a union is for? ”

        I thought unions were here to spread Communism and steal money from Americans.

      • chandlerco20 - Jan 15, 2013 at 10:53 AM

        As far as I’m concerned Gomez should be happy to be sitting on his couch earning 7.5 million over the course of these 4-5 months. Whether he plays or not his next contract will be a fraction of what he’s making now anyways. He’ll sign with some desperate team for what, 2 mil? Sure it hurts his market value, and that might be enough of a reason for him to play for MTL this season… I just don’t see someone with such little motivation redeeming himself this year in MTL.

  2. buckeye044 - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:22 AM

    Ok, so then he is a healthy scratch 48 times.

    • kitshky - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      You’re probably being facetious but that would have been the smarter way to go…

  3. cweez2 - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    What hurt his future market value was his past market performance.

    No sympathy here – in all the months of meetings and discussions, to ignore this loophole isn’t Montreal’s fault.

    • hockeywithdrawal - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      Agreed! Nicely put. I don’t even think it’s a loophole – they just aren’t taking chances and paying a guy to go home!

      • cweez2 - Jan 15, 2013 at 10:18 AM

        Agreed. After posting I think I should’ve not said “loophole.” But it’s a pretty obvious miss on the NHLPA if they’re crying foul about it now.

    • missthemexpos - Jan 15, 2013 at 11:10 AM

      I think not playing this year might actually increase his future market value. Come this summer when Montreal use their amnesty buyout on Gomez, it won”t be quite as fresh in other General Managers memory just how far downhill Gomez’s hockey skills have deteriorated.

    • kitshky - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      You’re right, it’s not a loophole. The NHLPA should certainly cry foul on this, when it comes to Labour Law they’re absolutely and 100% right here.

      The issue of whether or not we as fans think it’s a smart move for the team, or begrudge his past performance is irrelevant.

  4. bardown66 - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    Hey, just like anyone’s job. If you aren’t good enough to keep doing what you are dooms , the company will cut ties. No sympathy for an underachieving player like Gomez.

    • bardown66 - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:27 AM

      Edit* doing not dooms lol

    • ibieiniid - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:44 AM

      not standing up for either side in this one, but it’s a bit more complicated when signed contracts are in play.

      • bardown66 - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:48 AM

        Valid point, and I’m not a harsh person but his stint in Montreal has been a total failure. I have no problem with these proceedings.

      • kitshky - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:18 PM

        @bardown66 … but that’s the point, it’s not about whether or not we have an issue with his past performance or feel the move is morally justified.

        It doesn’t really even matter if the team itself feels that way … they signed a contract and are therefore obligated to honour it.

    • hockeyflow33 - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:27 PM

      Except they aren’t cutting ties with him, they’re restricting him from practicing his trade.

      • habsman - Jan 15, 2013 at 3:13 PM

        He can continue to practice his trade, all he has to do is request to be be released from his contract. I’m sure the Habs would co-operate.

      • hockeyflow33 - Jan 15, 2013 at 10:56 PM

        That’s not how it works.

  5. hockeywithdrawal - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    I love the NHLPA but I hope they back off this one quick…this is what the buy-out is for, MTL finally has a way out of a situation where a guy just stopped trying once he got a thick contract – they should not stand in the way.

    This is not “simply because of newly implemented system issues”, this is performance-based. And whether Gomez likes it or not, we’re all judged by our performance. Or lack thereof. He’s not a victim here, he’s about to be paid big-time for doing nothing. MTL is the victim in Gomez’ case.

  6. thecheeman - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    Sounds like the NHLPA is just trying to save a little face on behalf of one of their best-paid members. If you’re Gomez you probably don’t want to be perceived as not caring if you play hockey, so the NHLPA goes through a little Kabuki dance of objecting to your receiving full pay for doing nothing.


  7. ironcity6pak - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    He needs to find a place he feel comfortable in the system. When Gomez was in nj he was a great player, a dangerous player.

    • bardown66 - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:43 AM

      Too bad Lou won’t take that contract. Gomez looks like he will be going the way of johnathon cheechoo and vanishing.

    • hockeywithdrawal - Jan 15, 2013 at 4:26 PM

      er…maybe some other system, you mean.

  8. govtminion - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    “The union might also argue that forcing Gomez to miss the entire season will hurt his market value.”

    It will, however, result in the same number of goals, and will drastically improve his +/- rating.

    • lionstigersandwingsohmy - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      I almost spit out my coke.

  9. pushforpros - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    Reblogged this on Live it, eat it, breathe it: Hockey and commented:
    Some good thoughts. I can see why Habs have done it this way, but can also see why the NHLPA might not be jumping for joy over it.

    • zetaone - Jan 15, 2013 at 11:04 AM


    • hockeyflow33 - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      Well with that wonderful insight I’m sure your blog is filled with all sorts of gems.

  10. stakex - Jan 15, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Someone explain to me why the NHL/NHLPA didn’t just allow for the amnisty buyouts to take place now, before the start of this season? I mean what did anyone expect if teams can’t buyout injured players, but have to wait till after the season to do it? Of course teams aren’t going to let players they intend to buyout play.

    The NHL and the PA should come to an agreement that either:

    1. Buyouts can be used now. This would give buys like Redden and Gomez a chance to find a new team for this season… and I think both would be able to (with a massive paycut of course).

    2. Allow teams to use buyouts next summer on any player whos hurt playing in the NHL this season. Want players to be playing, and not sitting at home waiting? This seems like a perfectly logical solution.

  11. valoisjoeybfeld69 - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    Actually! His market value is pretty low, and will only go lower if he plays. So, he’s better off staying home an collecting the cash coming his way for the next 2 years.

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